When we first meet Kat Dennings’ character in Dollface, she’s going through a pretty tough moment. Her boyfriend of five years dumps her out of the blue.
The show, which is now streaming on Neon, is about her character Jules trying to rebuild her life after the breakup and attempting to regain the trust of female friends she deserted over the course of her ill-fated relationship.
The 34-year-old actress says she went through a similar experience.
“It’s a fairly common mistake I think everybody makes, you know, you fall hard for somebody and lose all track of your circle. Unless you don’t and you’re some sort of very evolved person,” she jokes.
The show, executive-produced by Dennings and none other than Australian superstar Margot Robbie, even let her coin the name, borrowed from a term of endearment she had with her ex-boyfriend.
“I had a big, big relationship in my 20s. We’re still friends to this day, and he used to call me dollface,” she says before revealing that she didn’t actually like it.
Dennings is a seasoned comedy actress, who you may know from her lead role in 2 Broke Girls, The House Bunny, and voice acting work as Leah in Netflix’s animated series Big Mouth. She tells the Herald that it was Robbie who wanted her for the part, calling it “an enormous compliment”.
“Margot Robbie wanted me to see a script. I almost didn’t care what it was about,” she says. “Of course, I ended up caring deeply what it was about and really loving it.”
With the help of a bus driver that’s a talking cat (yes, really) Jules rekindles her friendship with Madison (Brenda Song), and Stella (Shay Mitchell). The comedy offers a fresh twist on the romantic comedy genre, with romantic love being pushed to the side in favour of friendships and the relationship with oneself.
“Obviously romantic love is a great, wonderful thing. But, I don’t think enough emphasis is put on our friendships … those can be lifelong relationships, and they should be given ideally the same amount of attention you would give a romantic relationship.
“I wish I were growing up and having those kinds of things to consume instead of the, you know, princess getting rescued situation.”
Viewers can expect the show to deliver plenty of laughs, and it’s been received well by audiences in the States, where it has already been renewed for a second season. It blends moral lessons with fantasy, similar to Michael Schur’s The Good Place.
Dennings also hopes viewers take what her character goes through as a “cautionary tale”.
“I hope that if someone watching is kind of struggling with this similar thing that maybe they refocus and remember that they were a whole person before they met this other person,” she says. “It’s a really fun show with some more serious themes, so I think it’s a really fun ride for people.”
Speaking to the Herald on the phone from Los Angeles, Dennings calls New Zealand’s Covid-19 response “the shining example of beautiful humanity coming together,” explaining that it’s been a strange time to be an actress during a pandemic.
“As an actor, it just seems like there’s no safe way right now to possibly be indoors with 200 people. I’m a worrier,” she admits. “I’m not doing as well as somebody with a different type of personality.”
• Dollface, created by Jordan Weiss, screens on Neon in New Zealand from today.
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